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At our town’s elementary school, the owner of a local dojo comes to give all first graders a two-day introduction to karate, and it’s a major highlight of the year. (It’s also an amazing marketing move.) Not only are martial arts exciting, they are a fantastic way for kids to learn focus and discipline, and to build physical strength. Martial arts books for kids give young readers the chance to make connections and build background knowledge about this high-interest topic. Check out these top picks for kids, from the littlest white belts to the fiercest black belts!
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
Martial Arts Picture Books for Kids
1. My First Karate Class by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (PreK-1)
This informational book has an easy-reader section for kids to try reading themselves, as well as a portion to read with an adult, including a how-to section. It’d make a great mentor text for informational writing in K or 1, too.
Buy it: My First Karate Class at Amazon
2. Karate Kids by Holly Sterling (PreK-1)
Here’s the perfect martial arts book for kids who take karate classes or are interested in starting. Maya and her friends head to the dojo for their Saturday karate class. They all help each other succeed. It’s got excellent themes for class discussion about courage to try new things, perseverance, and encouraging others.
Buy it: Karate Kids at Amazon
3. Let’s Go to Taekwondo! A Story About Persistence, Bravery, and Breaking Boards by Aram Kim (PreK-2)
Yoomi tries to overcome her fears to earn her yellow belt in taekwondo. Her grandmother tries to learn to use the computer. How they encourage each other makes for a great class discussion. We love how this author’s work adds OwnVoices representation of Korean-American culture to classroom libraries.
4. A Morning With Grandpa by Sylvia Liu (PreK-2)
Here’s a quieter martial arts book for kids that’s more about focus and harnessing good energy and less about ninja kicks. Mei Mei is curious when she finds her grandfather in the yard practicing tai chi. The intergenerational story is so sweet. The back matter teaches kids a bit more about both tai chi and yoga.
Buy it: A Morning With Grandpa at Amazon
5. Karate Kid by Rosanne L. Kurstedt (PreK-2)
In a fun play on words, this how-to manual uses goat kids to demonstrate basic karate stances and moves. Human kids will want to stand up and try these out as you read, for sure.
Buy it: Karate Kid at Amazon
6. The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz (PreK-2)
This is one of our all-time favorite fractured fairy tales. It’s a fun choice if you want martial arts books for kids about multiple sports. When they decide they’ve had enough of the wolf’s bullying, the first pig takes aikido, the second jujitsu, and the third karate. Watch out! Also check out Ninja Red Riding Hood and Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks.
Buy it: The Three Ninja Pigs at Amazon
7. The Karate Kid: The Classic Illustrated Storybook (Pop Classics) by Kim Smith (K-4)
“Wax on, wax off.” Introduce kids to the plot of the original movie in a streamlined picture book form. The illustrations are way better than your average movie adaptation, and the plot will get kids talking.
(If you’re a movie fan, you’ll probably smile at the rest of the Pop Classics titles, too.)
Buy it: The Karate Kid: The Classic Illustrated Storybook at Amazon
8. Karate Hour by Carol Nevius (PreK-3)
Live through one karate class, from the opening bow and stretching to intense skills practice. It’s a rhyming text, but it’s cool enough for older kids, too. The artsy close-up black-and-white illustrations could give students new inspo for illustrating their own personal narratives, too. The back matter has more information on the history of karate.
Buy it: Karate Hour at Amazon
9. The Grandmaster’s Daughter by Dan-ah Kim (K-3)
Sunny is a young tae kwon do black belt in this OwnVoices title. She’s the daughter of a grandmaster of a dojang in the mountains of Korea. If you’re looking for a martial arts book for kids to discuss using skills appropriately (not for, say, recess or hallway fighting), the imagery in this book might help. The young students work together to protect each other from imaginary animals awakened from the mountains.
Buy it: The Grandmaster’s Daughter at Amazon
10. The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan by Kristen Mai Giang (Grades 1-4)
Martial arts were a key aspect of Jackie Chan’s training to become a Chinese opera performer and, later, an iconic movie stuntman. This is a unique addition to your picture book biography collection. Or use it as a mentor text for a biography unit.
Buy it: The Rise (and Falls) of Jackie Chan at Amazon
Martial Arts Chapter Books for Kids
11. Bunjitsu Bunny series by John Himmelman (PreK-1)
These easy illustrated chapter books work for read-alouds or independent reads. Isabel is “Bunjitsu Bunny,” the best martial artist in her school. She’s also kind and graceful. These books work well for a character study.
Buy it: Bunjitsu Bunny at Amazon
12. Ninjas and Samurai (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce (Grades 2-4)
Night of the Ninjas has always been one of the most popular Magic Tree House Books in our classrooms. This companion edition teaches more about Samurai and their training, which included jujitsu. It also dives into the history of real ninjas, which will fascinate ninja-obsessed kiddos.
Buy it: Ninjas and Samurai (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) at Amazon
13. Who Was Bruce Lee? By Jim Gigliotti and Who HQ (2-5)
Bruce Lee introduced kung fu, and martial arts in general, to millions of TV viewers when he starred on The Green Hornet in the late 1960s. Pass kids this readable biography to introduce them to a real-life superhero.
Buy it: Who Was Bruce Lee? at Amazon
14. & 15. Ninja Kid: From Nerd to Ninja! and Ninja Kid 2: Flying Ninja! by Anh Do (Grades 2-4)
Nelson is decidedly uncool—until he wakes up on his 10th birthday as a ninja. These are quick, funny, over-the-top reads for kids who like ninja and martial arts action.
Buy it: Ninja Kid: From Nerd to Ninja! at Amazon
Buy it: Ninja Kid 2: Flying Ninja! at Amazon
16. The Five Ancestors series by Jeff Stone
If you’re looking for chapter-book-length martial arts books for kids, this action-packed series about 12-year-old Fu and his “temple brothers” is a great choice. The five characters must come to terms with their pasts—and animalistic influences—when forced to leave the temple where they’ve grown up and trained in kung fu.
Buy it: The Five Ancestors series at Amazon